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Congressional Legislators Allege NASA, Obama In Violation Of Law


Read the “cease-and-desist” letter 27 Members of Congress sent to NASA Administrator Bolden.


Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) released the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s notice today that it is cancelling Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) contract:

“Administration’s unilateral decision to cancel contracts associated with the Constellation program, absent Congressional consent is a direct violation of the law and of Congressional intent,” said Congressman Posey.

“The President’s budget request represents a significant retreat from human space flight and a departure from his promise to close the gap and keep the United States first in space. The President’s budget has not been approved by the Congress. Congress has not directed the Administration to cancel the Constellation program in fact it has done just the opposite in recent legislation.

“Now we learn that the Administration is moving ahead with terminating Constellation without Congressional approval. I am informed that NASA has formed teams to wind down Constellation projects and that NASA is cancelling the EGLS procurement process for Constellation at Kennedy Space Center. This could be as many as 1,500 additional jobs that will be lost at KSC.

“The Consolidated Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010 expressly prohibits the ‘termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program.’ Moreover, indications that NASA is not properly allocating funds intended for Constellation is worrisome and in direct violation of the legislation that Congress passed and that has been signed into law. The unilateral decisions by the Administration are likely in direct violation of the Impoundment Control Act.

“Today I joined 26 of my colleagues from both parties in sending a strong message to NASA to halt any actions damaging to Constellation and reiterating the central role of elected legislators in authorizing and funding the future of human space flight.

“It is truly disappointing that our space program lacks leadership and vision. If current trends are allowed to continue, we risk reverting to pre-1961 status, having no human space flight program.”

VIDEO: NASA Admin Charlie Bolden Meets With Reporters

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden met with reporters at the Kennedy Space Center press site to discuss the agency’s new direction, Constellation, and Sunday’s scheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavour.

Endeavour’s STS-130 mission to the International Space Station is set to begin Sunday with a liftoff from Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A at 4:39 a.m. Eastern.

NASA Admin Charles Bolden Outlines Obama’s 2011 NASA Budget Request

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlines the administrations fiscal year 2011 budget request as the agency’s road map for a new era of innovation and discovery, and answers questions from reporters as the featured Newsmaker at the National Press Club in Washington.

Obama set to launch vision for NASA


“President Obama will chart a course for NASA within weeks, based on the advice of a handful of key advisers in the administration and Congress. Obama, who met Dec. 16 with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, hasn’t said when or how he’ll announce his new policy.

The announcement likely will come by the time the president releases his fiscal 2011 budget in early February, because he must decide how much money the space agency should get.”

Via USA Today: Obama set to launch vision for NASA



U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today wrote a letter to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin calling for an investigation of the Augustine Commission’s staff. The Augustine Commission was tasked with reviewing U.S. human space flight activities and presenting objective options to the President on the optimal path going forward. In light of the fact that several members of the Commission’s staff are federally registered lobbyists for the commercial space industry, Shelby called on NASA to investigate how these staff members’ involvement affected the Commission’s findings:

“Lobbyists are paid to represent a certain viewpoint and advocate for their client or employer’s position,” Shelby wrote to Martin. “Clearly, these lobbyists, whom represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession, have an agenda which is biased. Thus their decision-making is inevitably skewed by their allegiance. It is unfortunate that the options presented by the Augustine Commission are now tainted by the efforts of these individuals who happen to gain the most from the imbalanced comparisons and lack of consistent treatment of flight options in the report.”

The full text of the letter is below

December 14, 2009

The Honorable Paul K. Martin
Inspector General
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, SW
Suite 8V39
Washington, DC 20546-0001

Dear Mr. Martin,

I am writing with serious concerns regarding the Augustine Commission staff, their vocation, and their conduct while serving as Commission staff. It has come to my attention that several members are, in fact, federally registered lobbyists and that some of these individuals have taken direct advantage of their temporary roles on the Commission to further their personal business. Further, there are lobbyists that worked as Commission staff that are not even acknowledged in the report. This is both disturbing and unconscionable.

The Augustine Commission was tasked to review U.S. human space flight activities – a noble goal to ensure that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving its aspirations in space. I have a significant interest in the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program, the recent options presented by the Augustine Commission, and the pending decisions by the President on the future direction of NASA. However, I am concerned by the presence of lobbyists on this independent commission.

Lobbyists are paid to represent a certain viewpoint and advocate for their client or employer’s position. Clearly, these lobbyists, who represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession, have an agenda which is biased. Thus their decision-making is inevitably skewed by their allegiance. It is unfortunate that the options presented by the Augustine Commission are now tainted by the efforts of these individuals who happen to gain the most from the imbalanced comparisons and lack of consistent treatment of flight options in the report.

Therefore, I ask your office to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the role of federally registered lobbyists on the Augustine Commission. I request your office investigate and document any and all contacts these lobbyists made while serving on staff on the Commission. It is clearly possible that these individuals used their position to enhance their professional contacts benefiting their lobbying business and their client’s interests. Further, I would like a review of any and all input these individuals had into the report and its findings.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to reviewing your findings on this important matter.


Richard Shelby

NASA-Based Massively Multiplayer Online Learning Game


Astronaut: Moon Mars, and Beyond, is the official title of NASA’s upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online Learning Game.

The game makes use machines and equipment that are currently planned for use in NASA’s Constellation program; however the timeline in Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond is set in the exciting future (2035+).

Since the game utilizes vehicles and equipment currently scheduled for development, Astronaut: Moon Mars, and Beyond will give students the ability to explore our own near term future in space.

The learning game is sponsored by NASA Learning Technologies.

Watch a video demo of NASA’s Astronaut: Moon Mars, and Beyond – “Moonbase Alpha”

LCROSS Lunar Impact Data Shows ‘Significant Amount’ of Water on Moon


Preliminary data from NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater. The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon.

The LCROSS spacecraft and a companion rocket stage made twin impacts in the Cabeus crater Oct. 9 that created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years. The plume traveled at a high angle beyond the rim of Cabeus and into sunlight, while an additional curtain of debris was ejected more laterally.

“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and, by extension, the solar system,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding.”

Scientists long have speculated about the source of significant quantities of hydrogen that have been observed at the lunar poles. The LCROSS findings are shedding new light on the question with the discovery of water, which could be more widespread and in greater quantity than previously suspected. If the water that was formed or deposited is billions of years old, these polar cold traps could hold a key to the history and evolution of the solar system, much as an ice core sample taken on Earth reveals ancient data. In addition, water and other compounds represent potential resources that could sustain future lunar exploration.

Since the impacts, the LCROSS science team has been analyzing the huge amount of data the spacecraft collected. The team concentrated on data from the satellite’s spectrometers, which provide the most definitive information about the presence of water. A spectrometer helps identify the composition of materials by examining light they emit or absorb.

“We are ecstatic,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water.”

The team took the known near-infrared spectral signatures of water and other materials and compared them to the impact spectra the LCROSS near infrared spectrometer collected.

“We were able to match the spectra from LCROSS data only when we inserted the spectra for water,” Colaprete said. “No other reasonable combination of other compounds that we tried matched the observations. The possibility of contamination from the Centaur also was ruled out.”

Additional confirmation came from an emission in the ultraviolet spectrum that was attributed to hydroxyl, one product from the break-up of water by sunlight. When atoms and molecules are excited, they release energy at specific wavelengths that can be detected by the spectrometers. A similar process is used in neon signs. When electrified, a specific gas will produce a distinct color. Just after impact, the LCROSS ultraviolet visible spectrometer detected hydroxyl signatures that are consistent with a water vapor cloud in sunlight.

Data from the other LCROSS instruments are being analyzed for additional clues about the state and distribution of the material at the impact site. The LCROSS science team and colleagues are poring over the data to understand the entire impact event, from flash to crater. The goal is to understand the distribution of all materials within the soil at the impact site.

“The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich,” Colaprete said. “Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years.”

LCROSS was launched June 18 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. Moving at a speed of more than 1.5 miles per second, the spent upper stage of its launch vehicle hit the lunar surface shortly after 4:31 a.m. PDT Oct. 9, creating an impact that instruments aboard LCROSS observed for approximately four minutes. LCROSS then impacted the surface at approximately 4:36 a.m.

LRO observed the impact and continues to pass over the site to give the LCROSS team additional insight into the mechanics of the impact and its resulting craters. The LCROSS science team is working closely with scientists from LRO and other observatories that viewed the impact to analyze and understand the full scope of the LCROSS data.

Liftoff! Ares I-X Roars off Pad 39B


Liftoff of the 6-minute flight test was at 11:30 a.m. EDT Oct. 28, 2009. This was the first launch from Kennedy’s pads of a vehicle other than the space shuttle since the Apollo Program’s Saturn rockets were retired.

The parts used to make the Ares I-X booster flew on 30 different shuttle missions ranging from STS-29 in 1989 to STS-106 in 2000.

The data returned from more than 700 sensors throughout the rocket will be used to refine the design of future launch vehicles and bring NASA one step closer to reaching its exploration goals.

NASA’s Ares I-X Launch Rescheduled for Wednesday


NASA mission managers canceled Tuesday’s scheduled launch of the Ares I-X flight test because of weather concerns at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Another launch attempt is targeted for Wednesday. A four-hour launch window opens at 8 a.m. EDT.

The launch was delayed for 24 hours because of winds at the launch pad that exceeded the 20-knot limit and concerns about clouds with moisture that could have caused static build-up on the rocket and led to communication issues. Forecasters predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather Wednesday.

The Ares I-X is part of a larger flight test program that will provide data for future launch vehicles and give NASA an opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations.

NASA’s Ares I-X Rocket Arrives at Launch Pad 39B


For the first time in more than a quarter century, a new vehicle is sitting at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ares I-X flight test vehicle arrived at the pad atop of a giant crawler-transporter at approximately 7:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

The crawler-transporter left Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building at 1:39 a.m., traveling less than 1 mph during the 4.2-mile journey. The rocket was secured on the launch pad at 9:17 a.m.

The vehicle is scheduled to launch at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27. This test flight of the Ares I-X rocket will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I launch vehicle.

The Ares I rocket is being designed to carry astronauts to space in the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The Ares I-X test flight also will allow NASA to gather critical data during ascent of the vehicle’s integrated stack, which includes the Ares I with a simulated upper stage, Orion and launch abort system. Data collected from more than 700 sensors throughout the rocket will begin to confirm the vehicle as a whole is safe and stable in flight before astronauts begin traveling into orbit.

“With the arrival of Ares I-X at the pad, this milestone demonstrates NASA’s world-class ability to conceptually design, build and process a new launch vehicle in just under four years,” said Bob Ess, mission manager for Ares I-X at Kennedy. “Nearly 2,000 NASA and contractor employees located throughout the United States worked together in an unprecedented fashion, resulting in the new vehicle ready for flight.”

During the week before launch, technicians at the pad will perform a variety of electrical and mechanical checks to ready the vehicle for flight, including hydraulic power unit hot fire, steering tests and internal power verifications using flight batteries.

United Space Alliance of Houston is NASA’s prime contractor for the ground processing of the Ares I-X rocket.

“Processing for the Ares I-X test flight in parallel with space shuttle operations has been a true challenge involving people and hardware from across the country, and we’re very proud of what the team has accomplished,” said Mark Nappi, vice president of Launch and Recovery Systems for United Space Alliance.

ATK Space Systems of Magna, Utah, is NASA’s prime contractor for the first stage of the rocket.

“The NASA and contractor teamwork displayed over the last four years has been the catalyst that brought us to this important milestone today,” said Bob Herman, ATK’s vice president of Exploration Systems for Kennedy Space Center Operations. “As the Ares I first stage provider, we are looking forward to receiving invaluable data during the flight test.”

At the Flight Test Readiness Review on Oct. 23, mission managers will finalize the launch date and provide the team with a final “go” or “no go” for launch.

Ares I-X is an un-crewed, sub-orbital development test in a modified Ares I configuration. Ares I-X is the first developmental flight test of the Constellation Program, which includes the Ares I and V rockets, Orion and the Altair lunar lander.


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